Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’ 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.Acts 15:1-2
It’s true: ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’. So it’s easy to point the finger smugly and believe that we would have acted different.
Except we probably wouldn’t.
These Jewish followers of Jesus were sincere, enthusiastic and wrong. They weren’t saying that non-Jewish men couldn’t be saved, they just said they had to become like them. It’s an easy temptation to fall into.
Some people in our church remember the old days. The days when keen churches, sincere churches, enthusiastic churches sure of the story of salvation and the offer that was open to all, had a row of hats resting on pegs in the church foyer.
They were there just in case.
Just in case a woman should turn up to church looking for salvation, looking for a place to belong but unaware that they needed to wear a hat in this church.
I can only imagine the conversation.
‘It’s so nice to see you this morning, sister. And I don’t think we’ve met before. We do hope you enjoy being with us. I wonder, though, if, before you come in and join us, you would be willing to take one of these rather battered, hand-me-down hats and wear it today. We do want you to feel like you belong, you see.’
And most did take a hat, place it on their heads, wondering just why they weren’t acceptable to the church without it. Perhaps they would wonder whether God felt the same way about them. If God felt this way about hats, what about the other stuff? The things the welcome team couldn’t see?
What they should have said was: No, I don’t think I do want to wear one of your slightly grubby hats.
The women in the church should have said: No, they do not need to look like us to be acceptable to God.
The men in the church should have said: I don’t think this is what Paul meant in Corinthians.
They all should have said: No, it’s nonsense. You don’t need to be like us to belong. God is obviously at work in your life, and that’s good enough for us. Come in.
But sometimes it’s not enough for us, is it? We fear the ones who don’t look like us or talk like us or live like us. We feel confident that we know what God expects and we are keen to share that with whoever will listen.
And sometimes it takes someone to say, ‘Enough’, it takes someone to enter into a sharp dispute.
God was ahead of the Jewish follower of Jesus, ready to blow apart their barriers and dividing walls to let all those who were different into the kingdom.
He still is.
Forget about the hats.
This week’s interview is with Dan. It’s part of this month’s loose theme of family life. Dan is Steve and Claire’s son, and as well as reflecting on his own story of faith, gives advice for other parents whose children might be getting towards the teenage years.
1. Our Gatherings
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
In order to make sure that we keep everyone safe, we will use the waiting room option in Zoom. It means that when you connect you will just have to wait a moment till you are admitted to the service. Could you help us by making sure that your Zoom name on the screen has your name – rather than iphone, for example. Thanks
Or you can join us live on YouTube.
2. Prayer Ministry on Sundays
After each Sunday service, the prayer team will be available to pray for those needing support in breakout rooms on Zoom. You can either let Ian know in advance or just wait around after the service.
If you have prayer requests but don’t want to be prayed with, you can also let Ian know and the prayer team will use that time to pray on your behalf.
3. Coming Up: Alt Worship in the Church Building
On Wednesday 7 October at 7.30pm there will be a worship service in the church building. Alt worship is a monthly service led by Andrew and Alex that the young adults have been involved with. We will hold this next one in the building so there will be limited numbers allowed to keep social distancing. In total we can host 30 people. We have 10 seats available at the moment. If you want to come along you MUST contact Alex beforehand to tell her. Her number is 07746 130249. If necessary we will have a waiting list.
If you come you need to make sure you don’t have a temperature or feel unwell; you must wear a face mask during the service; and you must stay a couple of meters from one another.
4. Stay Connected: ‘Virtual Coffee Morning’ – Wednesday 10.30-11.30am
A Wednesday morning is the ideal time to catch up with people, have a brew, even involve yourself with a quiz. So, whilst it’s not as good as being together in person, there’s an opportunity to do it all online.
5. On Thursday at 7.45-9.00 All Church Prayer Meeting
The link is here:
6. Non-Zoom prayer meeting
On Friday 10.30-12.00 there’s a prayer meeting in a non-Zoom meeting! Using Whatsapp, contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.
If in doubt
All the links to the meetings are in Church Suite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website: http://www.salfordelimchurch.org/events/
You’re not alone
If you need help and don’t know where to turn, you are always welcome to contact Neil on 07771 558058 but you might also be interested to know about this ministry in the church:
Salford Elim Church and Community Counselling Service
One of the ways we have been able to help people as a church over the past few years is through the counselling ministry of Judith. Some of you might have benefitted from the space that this gives you to explore what is happening in life and how you can respond to the issues you are facing. This is something that has been used by people who don’t worship with us but recognise us as a place that is safe to explore all that is happening to them.
We want to continue this ministry and expand it in two ways:
- It may be that you are a trained counsellor and could offer sometime to help others. If you have been trained to Level 4 (Diploma) or Degree level in therapeutic counselling and would like to be involved, please contact Judith to talk about what might be possible. At the moment the counselling is offered via zoom or phone and we would like to continue with this form of support as well as in person counselling.
- In time we are going to offer a Listening service to those who might just need someone to talk to, but who don’t want or need specialist counselling. Earlier in the year, some of you came on the Listening Course we ran and if you would be willing to be part of this new project, then please contact Judith.
Her mobile number to text or call is 07854 946995
And finally, if you would like to access counselling for yourself, then please contact Judith directly or visit the page for the service.
Thanks to all of you who give regularly. If you want to make a gift to the church you can transfer money direct to the bank account. Here are the details: EFGA Salford Elim: 60-05-16; 18523781.
And if you would like to give to The Vine, the account is The Vine; 60-05-16; 18523811.
Every Week You get Prayed For!
This is just to remind you that every week the whole church is prayed for – by name. At the beginning of the lockdown, everyone who was on Church Suite was contacted by one of the pastoral team to make sure you had enough support. And in different ways that is continuing. Of course, you may have decided at the time that you would be ok and so didn’t really connect much. BUT… be assured you have been prayed for by name every week by the pastoral team.
I don’t take that for granted. It’s great to know that we belong to a church that supports one another in lots of ways, not least prayer.
From time to time, you might want to thank them!
As most of you will know, The Alpha Course is designed for those who want to explore the Christian faith in a relaxed environment where no questions are off limits. We are going to offer two opportunities before Christmas via Zoom to do Alpha; one on a Tuesday evening (starts 29th September) and the other on a Thursday afternoon (starts 24th September). Full details are available via the buttons below.
This isn’t aimed at those of us who already know the basics of faith but we do want to strongly encourage you to invite family members, friends, work colleagues, neighbours, (anyone!) who isn’t yet a Christian.
Sharing faith can be hard for most of us but this is an easy way to do it. You never know, they might say yes!
Here’s a promo video for Alpha which you might want to share with those you invite:
- For those who have already agreed to come
- For those you will invite
- For Judith and Ian as they lead the course
Links and Resources
1. Kids Resources
Here’s this week’s Kids Resources from Morag, with a variety of videos, crafts and other useful to help your child/ren read and learn from this week’s Bible passage.